Englisch ist doch nicht so leicht

Häufige Fehler von Deutschen, die Englisch sprechen

M. Boeckmann

After having had the pleasure of teaching the English language in Germany for several years, I’ve become accustomed to hearing students make similar mistakes. Therefore, I’d like to clarify some typical mistakes that Germans make when speaking English.

Firstly, it’s very important to understand the topic of false friends. False friends are words in two different languages that look exactly the same, or very similar, but have very different meanings. For example, I often hear sentences like “Is it possible to rent a beamer for this classroom next week?” Now, the problem here is that the word “beamer” in English means the car manufacturing company BMW. So what you’re literally saying is “Is it possible to rent a car for this classroom next week?” The English word for the German “Beamer” is “computer projector”. There are many other examples of false friends between English and German and, if you’re interested, you can find them all online.

I can’t tell you how often I hear Germans use the phrase “In the near of” in my classes. For example, “Potsdam is in the near of Berlin”. The phrase “in the near of” is simply a direct translation from German to English. Native English speakers would never use this phrase. What you should say is “Potsdam is near to (or close to) Berlin.”

englisch_2 Englisch - Englisch ist doch nicht so leicht - Spracheninstitut Universität Leipzig

One more very common mistake that I often hear deals with the usage of “for” and “since” when relating to an action which has started in the past and is still happening now. The problem here is that the translation of “for” and “since” in German is only “seit”. A typical sentence that I hear is something like “I live in Leipzig since three years”. Again, this is a direct translation from German to English and unfortunately doesn’t work in English. Here, you should use the present perfect or present perfect continuous tenses and say “I have lived in Leipzig for three years” or “I have been living in Leipzig for three years”. The reason why we use “for” and not “since” here is because “for” should be used when speaking about a time duration, whereas “since” should be used only if we know the starting point when this duration began. For example, you could say “I have lived in Leipzig since 2013”. The reason for this is because 2013 is a specific starting point for the time duration.

I hope this clarification helps you all with your English and you have a better understanding now of some of the common mistakes that are made :) 

m_2019-12-09_10.56.21 Englisch - Englisch ist doch nicht so leicht - Spracheninstitut Universität Leipzig
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